February 8th, 2015

You are not your thoughts

“You can only be afraid of what you think you know.” -- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Where do your thoughts come from?

How do they arise?

Can you stop them?

Can you control them?

Would you (even) want to?

Each of these questions could take a lifetime to understand.

When I was young, I read about the process of self-affirmation -- think positive -- and for a while I tried out a series of techniques, culminating in me writing down on blank cards messages that I thought would improve my life and financial circumstances. For a while, things seem to work (I'm not sure I was that assiduous with my reading), but it didn't take long before I was questioning why everything that I’d written down hadn't come true.

But I didn't question things nearly enough. I just assumed it was another technique that was more hyperbole than reality, and pushed on with my life.

Jump forward to March 2010.

I stumble across Brad Warner's book, Hard Core Zen. That leads to look at Dogen. And from there Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh and eventually, and most profoundly, to the work of Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Where now do I sit with the thinking mind conundrum?

I am not my thoughts.

But, of course, that doesn't let me off the hook, particularly as regards aspects of my personality and behaviour which at times is anything but how I would wish to be.

Going forward though, I at least start from a place where I'm much more able to observe, reflect and understand than I was before. It's not perfect, and still requires an immense will not to be drawn into the play (which too often I am), but as the old Japanese saying goes, 'softly, softly'.

One thing I'm sure of is the that having had the penny drop, there's no turning back the clock (not that I would wish that) and my life is now much more a spiritual quest -- not in the striving but more in the understanding sense -- than an ego driven one (show me the money and all that crap).

I feel blessed to have arrived at this place -- a place where, despite how my thinking mind might wish it otherwise, I can move forward living at peace with who I am.

Journey on.